West Midlands Ambulance staff attacks decrease

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The number of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) staff assaulted while working has fallen by 16% in a year.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request found the number of recorded physical attacks on staff fell from 210 to 175 between April 2012 and March 2013.

The Unison union said it was concerned the figures were not accurate because not every attack was being reported.

The service said staff had been trained in conflict resolution to stop assaults but they were still "too frequent".

'Under-reporting'

Steve Elliker, head of security and safety from WMAS NHS Trust said: "We try and make staff aware of situations before they potentially happen.

"We try and gain prosecutions against people who assault our staff and put the message out that our paramedics are there to help you not to be assaulted.

"We do everything we possibly can to make our staff as safe and secure as possible... but there is always that potential in any situation."

Mr Elliker said drink and drug issues were still the main causes of attacks, but some were by people who "were frustrated" with staff.

The trust said the number of reported incidents of verbal abuse had also fallen from 381 for 2011-12 to 298 for 2012-13.

Ray Salmon from Unison said he believed there was an "under-reporting of attacks on paramedics and NHS staff in general".

He said: "We believe there are far more people who are being assaulted or verbally abused but are not coming forward because this is seen as part of the day job, which is unacceptable.

"We don't believe the systems that are in place to protect staff are adequate."

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